Some Czech politicians were unhappy with the focus of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen State of the Union speech on Wednesday, with the Czech Civic Democratic Party saying that her main proposals were for new taxes and greater integration.
The chairman of the Civic Democratic Party parliamentary group, Jan Zahradil, described it as worrying that, according to him, the coronavirus epidemic also served the commission mainly as a pretext for deepening integration at the expense of nations.
“It is pretext for efforts to strengthen central decision-making, to introduce new taxes, to inflate the EU budget and to unprecedented common debt,” he said.
The Civic Democrats would prefer if von der Leyen focused more on strengthening the EU’s competitiveness. MEP Martina Dlabajová pointed out the imbalance between planned expenditures on digitization and environmental projects. According to her, more money for digitization would also help environmental goals.
According to the head of the European Commission, the EU should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990.
“Many of the proposed measures lack any support in reality, no studies on the impact on the economy have been published. Some of the current industries will disappear, but it is very uncertain whether new ones will emerge,” said Veronika Vrecionová, MEP from the Civic Democratic Party.
According to her, the EU may eventually undermine its competitiveness through these new measures.
In July, EU leaders agreed on the basic outlines of a fund for €750 billion euros (20 trillion korunas), which is designed to help European economies harmed by restrictions implemented against the spread of coronavirus. The president of the European Commission said on Wednesday that more than a third of the money will be used for environmental projects.
“Ursula von der Leyen has just said that she will send 37 percent of resources to the EU’s green economy, but only 20 percent on digitization. Why do we want such a disparity, especially when we know that digitization will help meet the goals of the Green Deal?” asked Martina Dlabajová, representing the ANO 2011 party led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
She also commented that von der Leyen had talked much longer about supporting the minimum wage in the EU than about fighting a pandemic.
MEP Luděk Niedermayer welcomed the call for EU member states to vote by qualified majority on human rights and sanctions. Regarding the forthcoming proposal of the European Commission to solve the migration crisis, he said that everyone must be part of this solution.
“Saving lives at sea is not optional, it is our duty,” he wrote on Twitter.
His party colleague, Jiří Pospíšil, praised von der Leyen’s opposition to the Belarusian protests against President Alexander Lukashenko and addressed the critical state of human rights in China.
“She called for values that are important to the West, such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, and equality,” he added.
Pirate MEP Mikuláš Peksa said that he could not say that he agreed with everything from the speech of the head of the European Commission.
“But if the Green Deal is to be implemented, this is a politically feasible approach on how to do it. Let’s hope the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade understood this,” he wrote on Twitter.
MEP Tomáš Zdechovský praised the summary of what the EU has done to deal with the situation around COVID-19, as well as the mention of intolerance of conflicts of interest.
“Otherwise, I admit disappointment, it was very ideological,” he said.
Title image: Czech Republic’s Jan Zahradil delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Wednesday July 3, 2019. European Union legislators are gearing up to elect their parliamentary leader — a decision that will complete the bloc’s drawn-out appointment process for its top jobs. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)